Many of our kids are enjoying the freedom of summer break. It’s a chance to rest and recharge both for parents and kids before the next school year begins. Although many parents might be looking for activities to keep their kids busy during summer, many more parents are looking into how to help my child read better before school starts.
Some parents might not consider enrolling their children in summer school or academic programs over summer break because of the costs. However, many kids end up falling into the “summer slide” and struggle in the first weeks of the new school year.
What is the “summer slide”?
The “summer slide” is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income, to lose the academic achievement gains they earned in the previous school year.
Students tend to fall behind over the summer because they are likely not getting any academic stimulation or practice to maintain the learning outcomes they gained.
According to Scholastic, “ A more recent study of children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.”
The lack of continuous and structured learning over the summer can contribute to the slump many children have over summer break.
While many children are in danger of falling behind over the summer, there are ways to avoid the “summer slide”.
How can I help my child read better?
If you fear your child losing their academic gains over the summer, there are a few easy activities you can incorporate into their summer days to help them read better before the new school year.
- Cook together – You can choose one night for your child to pick a recipe they want to try and cook the dish together. You can have them read the recipe to you while you prepare the meal or you can alternate where you read to them and they prepare part of the dish – with your supervision of course!
This can help them practice reading in a practical way and gives them a purpose for reading to fulfill a task.
- Schedule time to read – The biggest reason children lose their gains over the summer is because they often do not have the scheduled learning time like they do when they go to a classroom regularly.
During summer break, you should schedule time to read as a family. It can be time where you read to your children or they read to you. It can even just be a time to read individual books but together as a family.
Making reading a priority by scheduling it in every day can help them get some much needed structure over the summer.
- Let them choose a book – Many children might be reluctant to read because they are not enjoying the material they are reading. Over the summer give them the freedom to choose the books they want to read.
They will be more motivated and invested in actually starting and finishing the book.
- Practice real-world reading – You should encourage your child to read anything and everything they can. This means not just limiting their reading practice to books but also reading posters or billboards they see as well as shampoo bottles or food packaging.
- Have them create books – This is a great activity to help kids practice reading skills but also to get creative. You can have your child create their own books at home and then read them to you.
You can even create an actual bound book through websites that create them for you. You just need to input your child’s story and illustrations.
- Use reading apps – Most likely, your child is already learning to play on a tablet or smartphone. Why not use those online programs and tools to help them improve their reading skills? There are tons of reading apps available such as Readability that turn reading into an interactive and game-like experience.
What apps can help my child improve their reading skills?
Reading apps are a great way to keep your kids learning over the summer because they gamify reading to keep your kids entertained and motivated. Here are our favorite reading apps:
- Chicktionary – Chicktionary is great for new readers who need to build their sight word and vocabulary. Your child is given a set of letters and they must arrange them in as many words as they can.
This fun game introduces new words to kids and helps to also improve their spelling and phonemic awareness.
- ABCmouse – This app is great if you have kids of different ages and grade levels in your home. Your child can choose different reading levels to explore and play different games that help improve various reading skills such as vocabulary building and reading comprehension.
- Readability – If you are looking for an app that helps with overall reading improvement, Readability is the app for you. This innovative reading app asks like a private tutor for your child. They can choose a story from the large in-app library and have the app read the story to them as they follow along.
Using Interactive Voice based Question & Answers, the app can then help improve your child’s reading comprehension by asking them questions about the story they just read then listens to their answers.
You also have the option of having the app listen to your child read the story aloud and gives them instant feedback and error correction to help them improve.
Using any of these techniques or tools, such as Readability, can keep them learning and enjoying their summer vacation.
Keeping kids learning over the summer break can help them not only improve their reading for the next semester if they are struggling, but it can give them a chance to actually get ahead of their classmates in reading.